How can you help keep the married couples in your community as content as possible? Encourage better communication? Set up more couples-specific activities? Surely, those efforts can’t hurt.

But a better solution might be a bottle of wine and two glasses. For couples who drink together tend to stay together. At least, that’s the conclusion some researchers are making.

Their study reveals that marrieds who shared adult beverages experienced “decreased negative marital quality.” The nearly 3,000 couples participating in the case study had been married for 33 years, on average. Full findings appear in The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Series

“It could be that couples that do more leisure time activities together have better marital quality,” suggested Kira Birditt, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan. Put another way, the couples may be getting along for reasons that extend beyond their imbibing habits.

Respondents also were asked about marriage quality, whether they thought their spouses were too demanding, critical or irritating — and whether spouses could be counted on in times of need.

Birditt notes that spouses affect each other in significant ways. That influence intensifies during retirement years, when they tend to spend more time together. She adds that when one spouse must stop drinking, the other also should quit.

The dangers of excessive drinking are well-documented. But it also has been shown that moderate consumption can provide health benefits. Chief among them are reduced odds for developing or dying from heart disease. Alcohol intake also has been linked to a lowered risk for ischemic stroke (which occurs when the arteries to the brain become narrowed or blocked). It even may help fend off diabetes and the common cold.

Moreover, social drinkers tend to have more charisma, better incomes and more friends than those who abstain or drink alone, according to a 2006 study published by The Journal of Labor Research.

So here’s to your couples who still are wetting their whistles, and to the many happy hours they have shared. Maybe some of your other residents might want to give it a shot.

John O’Connor is editorial director of McKnight’s Senior Living. Email him at